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   Babrak Karmal
Babrak KarmalBy Afghanland.com:

Babrak Karmal
born January 6, 1929, near Kabul, Afghanistan
died December 3, 1996, Moscow, Russia

Babrak Karmal (roughly translated "little tiger") was born into a wealthy Afghan family near Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, January 6, 1929. His father, Maj. Gen. Mohammad Hussain, was a friend of the royal family, especially of Gen. Mohammad Daoud (prime minister 1953-1963; 1973-1978), cousin and brother-in-law of King Mohammad Zahir.

Karmal's ethnic background is rather hazy, as was common among those born in or near Kabul, but most agree that he was Tajik or Qizilbash, Persian-speaking background.

After graduation from the Nejat High School, Karmal enrolled at the College of Law and Political Sciences in 1951. The next year he was arrested for holding rallies in support of Abdul Rahman Mahmudi, the well-known revolutionary figure of the 1950s. In prison Karmal was befriended by a fellow inmate, Mier Akbar Khybar. A third inmate, Mier Mohammad Siddiq Farhang, initiated both to pro-Moscow leftist views. Karmal then broke off relations with the imprisoned Mahmudi because the latter had turned pro-Beijing. Following his release in 1955, Karmal resumed his studies at the university.

Karmal with Russian AmbassadorTabeyev and Tass reporterKarmal became involved in Marxist political activities while a student at Kabul University, where he gained a law degree. After graduation he entered the Ministry of Planning, keeping in close touch with those who had special knowledge on communism, among them Mier Mohammad Siddiq Farhang and Ali Mohammad Zahma, a professor at Kabul University; in the 1960s Karmal addressed Farhang as ustad (master). Farhang then introduced him to the royal court. Both played a leading role in influencing the youth in adhering to communism.

Karmal was a founding member of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) and served in the National Assembly from 1965 until 1973.

When the party split (1967) into the Khalq (Taraki and Amin)and the Parcham factions, he became leader of the more moderate Parcham faction. The factions reunited in 1977, and in April 1978 seized control of Afghanistan. Karmal was initially deputy prime minister but following the rise of the rival Khalq faction he was soon 'exiled' as ambassador to Prague.

The PDPA was attempting to modernize the country in line with Marxist ideas, but there was major unrest. In December 1979 the Soviets invaded Afghanistan and called Karmal back to be President of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. Listen to the Speech
Babrak Karmal with his Russian masters
Following the fighting with the mujahedin in the 1980s Moscow came to regard Karmal as a failure and blamed him for the problems. On May 4 1986 he was replaced as party leader by Mohammad
Najibullah, and six months later he was relieved of the presidency.
Karmal moved to Moscow, later returning to Afghanistan for several years, where he lived under protection of warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum. After several years, Karmal returned to Moscow, where he died of liver disease on December 6 1996. His cause of death was caused by excess drinking.

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